BASIC Sump Design - Illustrated

Neil H

Retired Moderator
Joined
11 May 2008
Posts
2,794
Reaction score
58
Location
JHB
This thread is a thread designed for people entering this hobby, it is by no means the be all and end all of sump designs.

I am also not going to argue the merits of this vs dozens of other sump options.

One of several accepted sump design concepts that is often recommended on MASA is the so called 3 chamber Skimmer DSB Return sump. This thread is an attempt to answer new members questions on how to implement THIS design.

Before you choose to go with this Sump design, it is your obligation to research the filtration and understand what each element of the sump does and whether an alternative filtration system may perform better for you... with that in mind before you choose this design make sure that you have read up about the following as a minimum and have decided that these systems are not for you at this stage or decide how you would like to incorporate these systems into the 3 chamber system


ATS, Zeo, De-Nitrifyer, NP reducing Pellets, Bio Balls, macro Algae, carbon phos remover etc etc etc .......

Right now that that is out of the way, lets design a 3 chamber Skimmer, DSB and return Sump.

First off the sump should be as big as you can make it .....

Chamber 1 is the Skimmer Chamber ..... the size of this chamber is dictated by either the size of your current skimmer or the size of a proposed skimmer upgrade.

Chamber 3 is the return chamber and should be big enough to accommodate the return pump, usually this chamber can also host a chemical filter such as a carbon filter.

Chamber 2 is simply the biggest that it can be, and must be able to have a sand bed of at least 15cm in depth, preferably 18cm.

9114c931c5a4c297.jpg


the image above is the basic basic sump and would work regardless of any additions, the additions i am going to suggest below are add ons and are not strictly required.

9114c931c5baa954.jpg


A small box where the water enters, this helps to keep the detritus in suspension.

9114c931c5dded55.jpg


A DSB works best with laminar flow, this deflection plate helps to stop turbulance over the DSB
9114c931d7800a02.jpg


When deciding on the height of the divisions bear a couple of things in mind, the water must flow from chamber 1 to chamber 3 hence the height of the divider bewteen chamber 2 and 3 should be lower than between chamber 1 and 2. Distance Y should be at least 15cm and preferably 18cm, Distance X should be at least 5cm longer than distance Y even more if you are considering running macro algae on top of the DSB

9114c931d79bd05a.jpg


An RO resivoir can be added as a 4th chamber, in any configuration, shown here is a 4th chamber at the back, the float switch controlling the water level should be in the return water chamber (3)

9114c931e9ecb15e.jpg


two points to remember when constructing the sump, Your Skimmer must be able to fit through the Gap indicated by J. In order to prevent flooding in the case of a power failure, the volume of water contained within gap K (excluding the volume that the skimmer will occupy) must be greater than the volume that will drain out of the display tank. as a rough guide assume that 1cm of water will drain from your DT therefore multiply Length and width of your DT by each other and then by 1cm, convert to Litres and ensure this is less water than is accommodated in Gap K of your sump. Failure to do so may result in a grumpy wife.

9114c931dc6baf00.jpg


Cubes sometimes require a different shaped sump to the traditional rectangle sump, pictured above is a simple variation on the normal design, note that a small powerhead may be required to create laminar flow in this design.

9114c931e9d7247d.jpg


Often tanks are on stands with a wooden support in the middle, simply connecting 2 smaller sumps with 2 x 50mm pipes will achieve the same result as a standard sump.

Guys note once again I am not saying this is the ONLY way to build a sump, it is one of the ways and simply meant to answer a question that seems to continiously be asked by new members.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

dallasg

Moderator
Joined
14 Dec 2008
Posts
16,850
Reaction score
615
Location
Sandton
well done :)
 

RiaanP

Moderator
Joined
11 Aug 2008
Posts
25,980
Reaction score
2,106
Location
Centurion
Another point to remember on the return chamber. The auto topup switches are also kept here. Make sure that there is enough water between ATU switch and return pump for evaporation in case the ATU stopped working for some stupid reason. Pump must still be submerged by the time you get home. So have the ATU switches as high as possible in this chamber. Same for all other chemical filtration and reactors pumps that are in this compartment. Ensure that all will still be under water if ATU fails.

Also
I prefer the second glass, your distance X, to be one cm lower than first glass pane.
And then the water level in return chamber to be between 1 and max 5cm below second glass pane (the distance X). The higher the waterlevel, the less bubbles will be created as water falls over this pane.
 
Last edited:

Neil H

Retired Moderator
Joined
11 May 2008
Posts
2,794
Reaction score
58
Location
JHB
great points Riaan.
 

leslie hempel

Sponsor
Joined
7 May 2007
Posts
17,171
Reaction score
1,033
Location
Gonubie East London
awsome than you for the contribution.
 
Joined
1 Apr 2010
Posts
203
Reaction score
0
Location
Cpt
@ Neil H

Great work and I am sure the newbies will be greatfull:thumbup:

The inlet box also lends itself to the addition of a filter sock , also like the idea of running a seperate top-up chamber the entire length of the sump.
I was think of having a separate overflow chamber in the cases of power failures and ATU failures.
 
Joined
25 Oct 2010
Posts
789
Reaction score
15
Location
Lonehill, Sandton
Hi guys,

I have a 4ft DT, and was told by members of MASA that to house a DSB my sump would be too small. I also have a partition in my cabinet, so I built a new sump to be housed next to the other. In total, now I have 2 x sumps totalling the width of my 4ft. I have modified them to have a total of 4 compartments. I plan on using the first for skimmer, 2nd and 3rd for DSB and 4th for return pump. Between the 2nd and 3rd the sumps are connected together and I have a 50mm tank connector and the flow between them is gravity driven.

Questions:
Will this work ok?
Should I use one of the DSB compartments as a refugium?
Must I place reverse lighting on both DSB's?
 

RiaanP

Moderator
Joined
11 Aug 2008
Posts
25,980
Reaction score
2,106
Location
Centurion
Hi guys,

I have a 4ft DT, and was told by members of MASA that to house a DSB my sump would be too small. I also have a partition in my cabinet, so I built a new sump to be housed next to the other. In total, now I have 2 x sumps totalling the width of my 4ft. I have modified them to have a total of 4 compartments. I plan on using the first for skimmer, 2nd and 3rd for DSB and 4th for return pump. Between the 2nd and 3rd the sumps are connected together and I have a 50mm tank connector and the flow between them is gravity driven.

Questions:
Will this work ok?
Should I use one of the DSB compartments as a refugium?
Must I place reverse lighting on both DSB's?
Like this
9114c931e9d7247d.jpg


yes will work.
But if you do not use a straight connection, you will find alligning them extremely difficult. Must be 100% perfect. Rather use a S design. Connection out, then 90 elbow, short 50mm pipe, another 90 elbow, connection into second tank. Then any upwards or downwards adjustments are easily sorted.

DSB if only a DSB do not need light.
If you keep on one side, above DSB some cheato, yes then you need light only that side.
 
Joined
25 Oct 2010
Posts
789
Reaction score
15
Location
Lonehill, Sandton
Thanks. I have already joined the 2 sumps..... (not an easy affair).... I had to replace 1 panel 3 times because of overtightening the tank connector... (we learn as we go!)
Found an easy way in the end to mark off the holes in the sump so that they align... My wife's idea and input: After drilling the first sump, rub "LIPSTICK" on the edge of a piece of 50mm pipe, place it through the hole, align the two sumps together and turn the pipe which marks the exact spot where the drilling is to be done on the 2nd sump. Works like engineers blue... hehe

Tanks for the advice RiaanP... Appreciated.
 

zak

Joined
7 Feb 2011
Posts
866
Reaction score
65
Location
Johannesburg
Very informative thread.. With regard to the first chamber of the sump design, where the skimmer lives.. Im assuming the overflow of the DT feeds this chamber, the water outlet of the skimmer also feeds this chamber? is this how its suppose to be? Should the water outlet of the skimmer not feed directly into the 2nd chamber?
 

RiaanP

Moderator
Joined
11 Aug 2008
Posts
25,980
Reaction score
2,106
Location
Centurion
no, not on internal skimmers with own feeder pumps, unless you can balance the skimmer feeder pump water flow rate exactly to the return pump. (not possible)

External skimmers where all water flow from overflow into skimmer, yes, then outlet do go to second chamber.
 
Last edited:

zak

Joined
7 Feb 2011
Posts
866
Reaction score
65
Location
Johannesburg
So what you saying is that some water coming out of the skimmers outlet will mix with water going into its feeder pump? In other words the skimmer will inevitably reskim some of the water it has just skimmed?
 

RiaanP

Moderator
Joined
11 Aug 2008
Posts
25,980
Reaction score
2,106
Location
Centurion
In other words the skimmer will inevitably reskim some of the water it has just skimmed?
Yes, if skimmer feeder pump got higher rating than return pump.
No, if skimmer feeder pump got lower rating than return pump.
difference between internal and external.
 

zak

Joined
7 Feb 2011
Posts
866
Reaction score
65
Location
Johannesburg
Thanks Riaan,

Il be running a TS3 skimmer and a Sicce syncra 2.5 return pump, So the skimmer feeder pump is definitely the more powerful of the two. Is this a problem? I haven't built the sump yet, so im open for suggestions.. As you would have noticed, im classified as plankton, very accurate indeed :)
 

Similar threads


Top